Saturday, April 2, 2011


I got my sleep in this afternoon and woke up in the third inning of the Giants/Dodgers game. I dunno what's gotten into me because I went straight away to multitasking. I'm probably looking for salvation from the heat and the burgeoning onset of Spring Fever...Man, it's tough to sack out when you really want to sit in the sun and watch the woodpeckers feed.

So, I checked the remote data...a degree or two lower than yesterday isn't enough to hang a hat on...still mid-60's, and last night things never got much below 40°F.

Last night the crew earned it. From the beginning of the shift, it was just awful. I was double passing get barely passable results. You couldn't blade little enough to help things either.

After a couple of hours of this, my phone rang. Jeweler was beside himself..."what am I doing wrong" he asked. "Nothing " I replied, I went on to tell him I was double passing everything at a snail's pace, getting barely satisfactory results. Jeweler was relieved...we soldiered on. The night droned on.

Something happened to the piste right around a light switch turning on, the snow got a little more real increase in speed, but the piste was laying out better.

I just looked at the high-rez temp plot, and that light switch moment aligns perfectly with the rise in temp from roughly 39°F-40°F, where it had hovered since 9PM. The temp shot almost straight up, and made a 15°F gain in a little over an hour!

Tonight is shaping up about like last night...a degree or two colder for the afternoon high, which was still in the 60's. It's too early to tell if the low has plateaued yet...just a degree or so warmer might make a difference...c'mon light switch!

The forecast promises a cool-down after Saturday's warm afternoon highs...15-25 degrees cooler, and with luck, an inch of snow. The valley highs will be down 10 degrees Saturday, so maybe our afternoon highs won't be quite so extreme...fingers crossed...

Friday, April 1, 2011


And so it begins...I should be sleeping...last night was NOT an auspicious beginning to my week! Springtime began for real with temps flirting with the 60's in the afternoon, and barely making freezing overnight...downright ugly grooming conditions...even for a 21st Century Grooming Fleet...even the best machinery can't break the Laws of Physics...

So, I fell asleep before the Noon News ended, but not before I set my DVR to watch the SF Giants' Opening Day game from Los Angeles. Then I woke up a half an hour before game time.

Last season was Nirvana for San Francisco Giants fans. The scrappy upstart SF Giants played small ball and came together as a team in time for a Stretch Run that landed them in the Playoffs where they ran the table and became 2010 World Series Champions. SF Giants' fans waited 54 years for this to happen. Along the way the 2010 Giants' style became known as "Torture" many come-from-behind wins, so many by only one run, so many decided in the 9th inning...It was torture all right...sweet torture...

I'm still up watching because the torture started in the 2nd inning tonight. Dodger hitters were getting to two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, who didn't record a strikeout until the 2nd inning. Up until the 6th inning, the Dodgers had nine base the 6th, a throwing error with one out started the wheels falling off the Giants' train...then Lincecum hit the next batter, another throwing error and the bases were loaded with one out!

Whew! Lincecum and the Giants escaped with only one Dodger run.

OK, I'll admit to my masochist side...I surfed the 'net for the remote weather's high temp on my mountain is up +11°F over yesterday...I'm afraid the Torture isn't going to end after nine innings tonight...

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Oh man, I'm still awake...things are bubbling through my brain, so much that I can't get to sleep...

Baseball season is almost here...30 hours left in March...America's Cup Regatta News every day...Salmon Season opens Saturday...10 days of parties and events to lead into the AMGEN Tour of California Pro Bicycle Race in May...Stage 2 comes past the DaveCave and right into my wheelhouse!

I've been getting emails from BajaBabe, she's doing a Big Spring Road Trip that'll put her in Truckee for a few days centered on the Bike!

This distributor R&R is like pulling teeth! At every step along the way, I encounter another diabolical hassle courtesy of GM's finest engineering...Grrrr...

More woodpeckers at Mrs Landlord's feeder again today...White Headed Woodpecker, and what I've been calling a "Big Flicker" may in fact be a Gila Woodpecker, and what I first believed to be an Acorn Woodpecker may actually be a Ladder-Backed Woodpecker or a Nuttall's Woodpecker...I'll keep after it until I make a positive ID.

The first time around, I fell asleep during both Open Wheel Races Sunday after work...the IndyCar Race on the streets of St Petersberg, Florida, and the Australian GP.

The F1 rules have changed big time again this tires (Pirelli), new aero rules, KERS is back, the front wings are fixed, and the rear wing is driver adjustable during the race now!

Thanks to the miracle of DVRs, I caught up with the races, and especially the evolving tech that keeps F1 at the forefront of motor racing a German Engineer's Kid, I'm helpless to resist this stuff...this year the teams are routing the exhaust to the front of the cars to increase the volume of air under the cars to increase downforce and cornering speed.

KERS the Kinetic Energy Recovery System wasn't pivotal Sunday...we'll see how it tips the balance when the F1 Circus visits some of the tighter tracks this summer in Europe...Melbourne's street circuit is fairly fast...the Pole Winning lap averaged more than 142 MPH. I can't wait to see what KERS will do at Monaco on Memorial Day Weekend!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Catchin' Up

Jeez, I slept through most of my weekend!

I got the deck cleared of snow, two loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away, blew a new parking space, and made a pizza for dinner...and fell asleep during the SF Giants vs Oakland A's game.

I'm getting closer on the pickup's distributor too.

Every time I look at the suet cage bird feeder there's another woodpecker on it...this AM it was the big flicker.

With my wake-up French Roast I found the local fishwrap had two stories about the big snowpack:

"The Snowiest March We've Ever Seen" and "Near-record Sierra snow good news to parched California" No doubt the High Sierra boat ramps will be wet come October...

Why October you ask? Well the water is cooling, the kids are back to school, campgrounds are empty, and the water skiers have packed it in for the a word, peaceful...oh, and the German Browns are getting frisky!

Time for me to get frisky too...time waits for no distributor!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Well Done

When it rains it pours goes the old adage...unfortunately I had to live it first hand Friday night.

I should have suspected the continued pummeling when I parked the parts runner in the freshly plowed parking lot. As I got out from behind the wheel, a huge gust of wind blew my watch cap off my head! I grumbled as I looked in vain for it. Oh, there it is...some 40 feet away!

Walking up the shop road with the wind at my back, I had no idea what faced me...until I walked into the groomer's ready room and felt the defeated vibe...three cats down will do that...especially when there's so much work to be done!

Once everyone punched in, my fate was sealed...everyone would have a cat to run once Driller finished his shift in the Terrain Park. Two of us would have to run winchcats, but we wouldn't be hooking up and pulling new trails...just digging and the basics...this was no time to wallow into bottomless secondary runs!

Of the three downed cats, the Bison would be the quickest fix...once the Graveyard Wrench punched in. My Ol' Faithful was still awaiting a new injector so I took it upon myself to run the Shop Cat until further notice. I wanted all the guys to at least run BR350s...the guys running winchcats as free groomers felt put upon enough already...

I set about getting the Shop Cat started...I rounded up the hot shot battery charger and an extension cord. Eskimo hauled me and the charging kit up to the parking hill and back-bladed away the drifted snow around the old warhorse. I embarked and thanked him for the ride, and slogged to the cat.

The Shop Cat is a patchwork quilt of retired front line groomers. She began life as a 2001 Bombardier BR275 Olympic Winchcat.  We bought her on the cheap because she was a demo cat. Bombardier made a fleet of these Olympic Cats available to the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee for use at the 2001 Olympic Trials, the dress rehearsal for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. The cat has the signature livery featuring the 2002 Olympic Emblem, a stylized snowflake. Ours had just a few hundred hours on the clock when we took delivery, and she served as a frontline winchcat for several years before being put out to pasture.

On the back, the winch has been replaced by a tilting aluminum pickup bed from another retired demo of the two Euro-Spec BR400MPs we bought around Y2K. One of those EuroCats was my daily driver, I hated those pickup beds...they did a great job of totally obscuring the tiller's cutter bar...not to mention how much snow they'd catch in a shift...snow that you have to shovel off at the end of your shift!

I schlepped the charger around to the pickup bed, brushed the snow from the batteries, and hooked up the leads. I ran the extension cord to the power pole and plugged her in. Back at the Shop Cat, I could hear the charger doing it's thing. I turned the key...nothing, no lights either...I looked around for the Main Electrical Shut Off Switch...nothing...then I remembered that our mechanics had installed the big switches in the cabs back in the day, and that the OEM location was back in the engine compartment. A little more snow sweeping and I found the Mains. Back in the throne, I turned her over...I got a good five seconds before the starter drained the pitiful battery bank.

I tried again every few minutes before I got some encouraging coughs and ignitions, but still not enough electrons to get her to catch. I busied myself looking about the cab. I put the rear view mirror back on it's stalk. I turned her over again...more good sounds, but still the Cummins engine refused to run on it's own before the juice ran out.

I think I know how the thoroughbred race horses feel in the starting gate. Waiting more than five minutes between tries was torture. Finally she caught and stayed running. It was almost 2AM

I still couldn't relax...the lights were dim, the heater blower was barely moving any air, and the voltmeter hadn't moved one millimeter...diesels don't need any electricity to run once they've started. I kept the lights off while I warmed it up...I figured the the Graveyard Wrench could council me on the cat's foibles...he'd be in any minute. I throttled up to drive down to the fuel dock and the volt meter came to life at 1000RPM...I'm saved!

I put the charging gear back in the shop and got my things arranged in the old cat's cab. I filled it up and the Graveyard Wrench walked in. I gave him the thumbnail of the state of the fleet, grabbed a handheld 2-way, and finally rumbled off into the it was 0300...

I started mashing down the homeruns and maze was really deep. I could barely see...the defroster just wasn't getting the job done. Cats of this era had windshield defrosters on a timed circuit. Turn on the defroster and it turns itself off after 15 minutes. There's an indicator light on the dash that shows when the defroster is on, but it's notorious for's cats still have the timer, but the timer resets every time you move the blade, so the windshield defroster only goes off when the cat's not working.

I turned the heat up and tried to run with the window open, but those gusty winds were bringing in more moisture than the heat was moving out. It was like a sauna in there...without the relaxing part.

I ran this way for seven I know how a pot roast feels coming outta the oven!

The Bison was back online around 0600, and my Ol' Faithful was ready to rumble at 0900.

I can't wait to groom in the 21st Century tonight! (Though I'd be lying if I said these days don't remind me of 1981/1982)